Regardless how intelligent you are, your success depends on your ability to communicate effectively.
To do so you must first realize that there are different CHANNELS of communication and that you must master each of these CHANNELS.
Writing isn't speaking and speaking isn't writing. So if any part of your business relies on you speaking in either large or small group settings or making business deals face-to-face, you'll want to listen up.
Written communication is linear, a single channel input. Written communication is much more effective than speaking for the exchange of facts, data, and details. You can read five times faster than a person can speak. With the written word, you can concentrate on, skim, or altogether ignore a certain section of material.
However, if your goal is to influence or persuade, to really get your point across, you have to say it with impact. You have to use action.
Speaking is a multi-channel surround sound action experience in which dozens of channels concurrently feed information to our brains.
And right or wrong, good or bad, the first thing people notice when watching you give a presentation or lead a meeting is how you look.
In fact, studies show that others are influenced mostly by how you look, then by how you sound, and lastly by what you say. The breakdown looks like this:
Your message will not be heard if aspects of your appearance are distracting your audience. And let me be clear... When I say "appearance," I'm not just talking about having a freshly-ironed suit or nicely-styled hair. It encompasses so many more channels.
If you are planning on making some face-to-face business deals -- especially if you are banking on those deals to improve your business's bottom line be sure to go through my checklist below.
Top 7 Appearance Tips for Surefire Success
1) Posture: Never sit through a meeting all hunched over. And don't cross your arms once seated. Doing either of these things will make you look either sloppy or defensive. Instead, sit back in your seat with your arms and hands lying loosely on your lap.
2) Facial Expression: Lose any kind of frown or sad expression. Walk into all business situations with a smile on your face that says, "I am ready, willing, and able!"
3) Energy Level: Be sure to get a good night's sleep before an important meeting and eat a meal made up of foods that provide energy rather than drain it. For example, don't eat bagels or donuts before a big meeting. They will only set you up to crash later. Instead, have some protein and fruit.
4) Eye contact: Some people are just flat out uncomfortable making eye contact. If this is you - get over it. Practice with a colleague or friend. If you avoid it, you will find that people think you are hiding something... and your deal is likely to fall through the cracks.
5) Voice inflection and volume: Did you ever see the episode of Seinfeld with the "low talker"? It's one of my favorites. In a nutshell, Kramer's girlfriend talks so softly that Jerry agrees to a ridiculous request because he simply can't hear what she is saying. Funny on a television program. But in the real world, people will simply cut the meeting short and your big opportunity will be lost forever. So make sure you speak clearly and loudly enough for everyone around you to hear. And don't speak in a monotone voice. You'll want to convey confidence at all times and excitement when appropriate.
6) Gestures and other physical actions: There is nothing wrong with moving your hands when you speak. But do learn to keep them in the "zone." The "zone" is the width of your seat and the height of your torso. Anything outside of that range is just too big for a first-time business meeting, and it risks diverting the focus from your words to your gestures.
7) Dress: So many people stress out about what to wear for a business meeting. When in doubt, formal is better than casual for a first-time business meeting. You can never lose with a skirt, blouse, and jacket for women and khakis, tie and jacket for men. If the person you are meeting with shows up in jeans, you can always remove the jacket. But if you are in jeans and the other person shows up in a suit, your options are limited.
By adhering to the checklist above, you will assure yourself that you are doing everything possible to make every business meeting count.